Restaurant review: Novikov in AlUla

Italian fare meets pan-Asian cuisine at the AlUla branch of this renowned international chain…

Novikov – while the name is undoubtedly Russian (named after the restaurant’s owner, Arkady Novikov), this den of gourmet delights is rooted in serving pan-Asian and Italian cuisines.

The renowned international chain debuted in Saudi Arabia in 2021 with a sprawling venue in Jeddah. Its latest outpost is much more intimate – in AlUla Old Town.

Novikov AlUla

Plus, you know it’s officially alfresco season here when the space is fully decked out with outdoor patio seats. Its minimalist aesthetic and charming rustic interior complement its natural environment.

Seated at a neatly laid table next to the DJ booth, we take in the buzzing atmosphere. The soundtrack is a funky kind of samba-soul, and the vibe is just as up-tempo as the beat.

There’s no stuffiness that you could anticipate from Novikov AlUla – it’s relaxed and vibrant, with staff weaving between guests like a well-coordinated relay team. Our own waiter for the night helpfully explains the menu that has been prepared for us.

@whatsonksa Novikov has landed in #AlUla ♬ original sound – whatsonksa

Like a parade of beautifully decorated floats, the procession of dishes begins. First up is a selection of sumptuous sushi, along with baby calamari and salad. They vanish in seconds.

The penne beef Bolognese is rather generic. The mushroom risotto tastes less indulgent, but is delicious too, with the Italian porcini fronting the flavours and the rice grains having a little bite left in them.

Novikov grilled salmon

If you’re up for more, the pan-fried veal scaloppina is great for sharing, and it’d be a treat if you like it. Additionally, the charcoal grilled salmon is good but not amazing. But because the dish looks so pleasing, you enjoy it just a bit more.

Dessert is pretty straightforward – warm, moist date cake served with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream. It satisfies any cravings for a sweet ending.

Novikov date cake

From appetisers to dessert, there’s definitely something memorable for everyone to love at Novikov AlUla. The next time we’re here, we’d like to give more of the pan-Asian dishes a going over. In truth, however, the food is only half the equation here – you’re visiting, of course, for the downright beautiful ambience of AlUla Old Town.

Novikov AlUla, Sat to Wed 4pm to midnight, Thurs & Fri 4pm to 1am, Old Town. Reservations can be made here. @novikov_alula

Images: Social